Matters Column

Support politicians based on voting records, not rhetoric

October 15, 2012
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The election next month will be a turning point for small business. The fact that the president is overtly anti-small-business is not the issue. If it were not for the fact that half or more Americans may vote for him, he would simply be another Ivy League college professor.

The president is not the problem. The people who vote for him are. This election has so much more at stake than political party affiliation. It has to do with the most fundamental of cultural values. Who is responsible for the security of you and your family’s well-being? Who should benefit from your risk and hard work?

Apparently, we as a nation are about evenly split on that issue. It is relevant that about half of Americans pay no income tax. Yes, they pay social security, sales, property taxes, etc., but income tax is the political football because it is the most complicated and is, above all else, progressive. 

We are in a social debate: Does one person have the right to demand that government level the results of individual effort?

As a small business advocate, I am going to support self-sufficiency. The question is how best to preserve the national tradition of freedom to thrive on your own. Election time is not the most important time to deliver the message. It should be delivered all the time.

Children in our public school system are taught by members of a union that almost universally supports the Democratic Party. I don't think we have to debate which political party represents the small business community. It would seem that a teacher will attempt to influence students to believe the basic tenants of the organization that has delivered the goods for them.

Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, made a comment recently that all politicians claim they are big supporters of small business, and you might believe that until you look at their voting records.

How hard is this to understand? The country needs jobs. Who creates jobs? Small business. How would a politician support jobs? Support small business. The president made the statement that small business owners did not build their businesses. I think that says it all as to the attitude of the current administration.

So what do we do? We have the November election as our immediate concern. Put your money and your support behind politicians based on their voting records, not their rhetoric.

Long term, we must educate the public and our children about the necessity of a healthy and vibrant small business community. Small business equals jobs.

Barack Obama is not the problem. He is a symptom of the problem. If we had a voting population that understood the simple economics of job creation, the president would be a member of an obscure group railing against the unfairness of economic reality.

One of the hardest things for me to understand is the lack of knowledge of simple economics by voters. The Chicago teachers’ strike settlement is a classic. I can understand why the second worst group of teachers in the country demanded a budget-breaking raise. I can understand why the mayor of Chicago gave them the raise. The teachers union funds his political machine.

What I can't understand is how the citizens of Chicago continue to vote for city officials who sell the futures of their children to a union that cares only about the financial well-being of one of the most ineffectual teaching staffs in the world.

How do you fix that? It is a kind of municipal suicide.

Get involved. You should be active in the advocacy organization of your choice all the time. Financial support is critical, but so is your time. At age 70, I realize that I have been in business during the best period in time and place for owning a small business. We need to preserve for our children and grandchildren a future as good as we experienced. That can only be accomplished if we stand up for the future of small business.

Paul Hense is the retired president of local accounting firm Hense & Associates. He also is past chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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